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Obituaries from the week of Feb. 1, 2012

Stephen Koester, 65

Stephen (Steve) Koester, 65, of Mitchell, SD, died January 23, 2012 at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell, SD after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years.  Memorial services were held at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Thursday January 26, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. with burial service to follow at Calvary Cemetery.

Stephen Keith Koester was born February 11th 1946 in Willmar, MN. to Henry and Elsie (Strom) Koester.  Stephen graduated from Kerkhoven High School, Kerkhoven, MN, in 1964 and spent four years studying at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN.

He married Bernadette (Bunny) Surprenant on June 14th 1969 in Currie, MN.   They began their life together in West St. Paul, MN as Steve began his career as a cattle buyer at Central Livestock (formerly Central Order Buyers).   After six years in the Twin City area Steve’s work moved them to Sioux Falls, SD.   In 1977 he left Central Livestock and became partners in Kistler and Koester Livestock that, in 1980, became Koester Cattle Company.  In 1981, Steve and Bunny settled in Mitchell, SD.

He enjoyed the outdoors and experienced it by hunting, fishing, and traveling.  Steve loved to spend time with his grandsons.  Also, he would seldom miss an opportunity to discuss the cattle market.  He was a member of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church and was a strong supporter of 4H and the local beef industry.

He is survived by his wife, Bernadette; daughter Sarah Olinger and husband John of Woonsocket, SD; son Jacob and wife, Krista (Vigil) of Albuquerque, NM; sister Patricia Davis of Tucson, AZ; brother Gerald (Carmen) of Kerkhoven, MN; brother John of Cresco, IA; sisters-in-law Doris (Floyd) Peterson of Plymouth, MN, Louise Gervais of Currie, MN, Phyllis (Vern) Ahrndt of Plymouth, MN, Mary Steffen of Waconia, MN, Joan Surprenant of North Mankato, MN, Mary Jo Surprenant of Mankato, MN; brother-in-laws Ralph (Myrna) Surprenant of Tracy, MN, Jim (Barb) Surprenant of Slayton, MN, Leo Surprenant of Redwood Falls, MN, Fr. Paul Surprenant of Byron, MN, Mike Surprenant of Currie, MN; 3 grandchildren, Drew, Clay, and Kade Olinger and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers-in-law Fr. John Surprenant, Jim Steffen, Hugh Gervais, and Kenneth Surprenant and nephew Philip Steffen.


Larry Leysen, 71

Memorial services were held at the Slayton Presbyterian Church on Friday, January 27, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. for Larry Leysen. Rev. S Lynne Matthews officiated.  The organist was Bonnie Poppen with special music by Rev. David Poppen. 

Larry Leysen was born on March 22, 1940 in Slayton, Minnesota to Henry and Kathryn Tuin Leysen.  He grew up on the family farm and graduated from Slayton High School in 1958. 

On September 14, 1963 he and Marilyn Goltz were married at the United Methodist Church in Tracy, MN.  Following their marriage they made their home in Currie, MN and Larry worked for the Currie Elevator.  In 1968 they moved to George, IA and Larry managed the elevator in George for a year.  They then returned to Currie and Larry worked for Murray County driving a road grader.  In 1977 they moved to the farm north of Slayton and farmed.  In 2003 while still farming Larry started doing road grading for several township in Murray County.  He retired in 2009 from farming but remained on the farm.    Larry was still working for the townships at the time of his death. 

Larry passed away on Monday, January 23, 2012 at the Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD at the age of 71.  He was a member of the Slayton Presbyterian Church and had served as elder and Trustee.  He also was a member of the Slayton Driftbreakers and the Currie American Legion Post.  Larry enjoyed spending time with his family, snowmobiling, coffee at the Host and tinkering around outside.

Survivors include his wife: Marilyn Leysen of Slayton, MN three children and their spouses, Marni and John Larsen of Avoca, MN, Larry A. Leysen, and John and Shannon Leysen of Slayton, MN, eight grandchildren, Kristina Johns and husband, Travis, Michelle Larsen, Tyler Larsen, Kahlen Larsen, Jennifer Leysen, Sara Leysen, Wesley Leysen, and Tracy Leysen, two great-grandchildren, Brylie Johns and Logon Larson, one brother, Lee Leysen and his wife, Jan of Tracy, MN, and one sister, Linda Ahlschlager and her husband, Mike of Iona, MN.  He is preceded in death by his parents.

Interment was at Slayton Memorial Gardens. Slayton, MN. 

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Robert “Bob” Schaefer, 51


Robert “Bob” Schaefer, formerly of Tracy, passed away from complications from diabetes on Sat., Jan. 28 in Canby MN. He was 51 years old.

He was born in Brookings SD.

The funeral is Sat., Feb. 4 at the Birk Funeral Home in Canby. Visitation is 12-1p.m. and the service is at 1 p.m.

He is the son of the late John “Jack” and Ardene Schaefer formerly of Tracy.


Teng Yang, 16

Teng Yang, age 16, of Walnut Grove passed away Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls.  Services were held at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, January 28 at the Walnut Grove Funeral Home, and   continued until 10:00 a.m. Monday.  Burial was at 10:00 a.m. Monday, January 30 at the Walnut Grove Cemetery.  Teng is the son of Chor Yang and Mang Thao of Walnut Grove.  Online condolences may be sent at  Stephens Funeral Service - Walnut Grove Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.